“I remember the day Beth was born…” My mom pauses, recalling the special day of her first born. “I knew I was in labor, but I did not want to tell anyone.” She continued the story about how they had picked dewberries that day and that her mom was making a cobbler. “I did not tell anyone I was in labor because there was a dewberry cobbler cooking in the oven, and I wasn’t going to go to the hospital before I had a piece!”
I never grow tired of hearing family stories. Whether it is when we went on a family trip to the beach and accidently left my brother behind at home, or when my dad sliced his foot open trying to use a garden hoe as a pole for vaulting over the family vegetable patch. Family stories help us to connect to our personal history and family values. They teach us lessons, instill empathy, and awaken potential. Family stories help us to realize we are part of something bigger.
This is the 100th anniversary of when our Heavenly Mother appeared to three young children in Fatima. She asked that the Rosary be prayed daily as an instrument of world peace. I heard a phrase the other day regarding the Rosary that really caught my attention, and it went something like this: Praying the Rosary is like sitting in the lap our Heavenly Mother as she tells us the family stories. Telling family stories? Our Heavenly Mother? I want to be part of that!
The Rosary is basically a gospel prayer. To pray it properly, you reflect on different aspects of joyful, sorrowful, glorious or luminous “mysteries,” or what I like to call stories. You pray and listen. Listen to the joyful family stories about when Mary found out she was pregnant, and how she traveled to visit her cousin who was also pregnant. You listen to the story of Jesus’ birth, plus how Mary and Joseph proudly and dutifully presented their baby at the temple, and then 12 years later, how they “lost” and the found him at the temple! You also listen to and reflect on sorrowful stories, glorious stories and stories of light. Without this contemplation, the Rosary “is in danger of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas.” says St. John Paul II. We must be like our heavenly mother, and keep all these words and ponder them in our heart.
So why do I pray the Rosary?
- First and foremost I pray because my Heavenly Mother asked me to!
- I pray because of miraculous events that have occurred because of praying the Rosary.
- I pray because the Rosary helps me to connect to my Christian family history and values.
- I pray because the Rosary teaches me lessons, instills empathy, awakens my potential and helps me to realize I am part of something bigger.
But most recently, I pray because this concept of sitting in the lap of my Heavenly Mother as she tells me the family stories is extremely comforting. I can almost hear her voice saying, “I remember the night your brother Jesus was born.” As I listen to her tell our family stories and I ponder the beauty of it all – I feel her gently put her loving hand in mine, and I know…. she is leading me home to our Father.